Jindal administration to sell Baton Rouge welcome center

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration is preparing to sell a welcome center and adjacent parking garage in downtown Baton Rouge.

The administration will ask for legislative signoff next week to declare the two structures surplus property, clearing the way for the sale process.

"The welcome center is a great facility that just isn't being utilized enough to justify the expense for taxpayers," Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said.

By selling underused facilities, the state can reduce spending on maintenance and upkeep of those buildings, in addition to collecting sale proceeds.

The Capitol Park Welcome Center, opened in 2007, includes a theater space, meeting space and a patio with room for up to 600 people. It has been appraised at $7 million. The nearby parking garage has been appraised at $4 million.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who oversees the welcome center through the Office of Tourism, said he supports the sale plans. He said the center is little-used, with only a handful of people a week stopping there.

"I think it will be beneficial to put it back in the private sector," Dardenne said. "There's a sense there's going to be a marketplace for it. Any use is a better use than the non-use that's been a hallmark of its existence."



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